Throw light on the functions and importance of food processing while differentiating the primary, secondary and tertiary processing.

Food processing refers to the transformation of agricultural products into consumable products, of different forms. It includes many forms of processing foods, like grinding grain to make raw flour, Fruit pulps from fruits, etc. It is one of the largest industries in India and ranks fifth in terms of production, consumption, and exports. It also contributes a significant part of India’s manufacturing sector GDP.


Traditional food processing had two functions viz. Making food more digestive and to preserve food during times of scarcity as most crops are seasonal.

  • By processing food, it can be customized to suit the adequate nutritional requirements of groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants, young children, and athletes.
  • Modern food processing has three major aims i.e. food safety (microbiologically, chemically), maintaining the highest quality product(flavor, color, texture), making convenient forms of food (ease of use).


Food processing incorporates all the steps that food goes through from the time it is harvested to the time it arrives on the consumer’s plate.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the processing of foods can be classified into three types viz. Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.

Primary food processing

Primary food processing converts agricultural products like raw wheat kernels into some eatable products. It includes the process of drying, threshing, milling grain, shelling of nuts, and butchering animals for meat, etc. Contamination and spoilage problems can affect this type of food processing.

Secondary food processing

Secondary food processing is associated with every day’s food production that includes milling of paddy to rice, the baking of bread either in house or bakery, making of liquor, sausages. It could be compared with the cooking process.

Tertiary food processing

Tertiary food processing is the production of processed food which are used commercially. It leads to high value-added ready-to-eat food like bakery products, instant foods, health drinks, etc.

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